When I was a kid, Christmas records got play all year ‘round. I have vivid memories of summer vacation in t-shirts and shorts making up dance routines to Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with a neighborhood friend. This constant love for the holiday meant that I was making construction paper ornaments and cardboard wreaths while other kids were making slushies and… other things that one makes in the summer. (What do I know about that? I was busy coloring Christmas trees.)
Not everyone in my household was thrilled with the constant supply of holidays. Although, my brother ended up marrying someone who counts down the days until Thanksgiving, so that she can start the non-stop string of music until December 25th. What can I say? He has excellent taste.
It’s funny how we make arbitrary rules about when things are appropriate. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m often the one bouncing down the Christmas aisles in stores in October while other people are grumbling, “It’s not even Halloween yet!”
Even down to the foods we eat, holidays are regimented. You don’t see people making marshmallow topped sweet potatoes and green bean casserole in May. Soy nog and all things pumpkin are hardly treats for the Fourth of July cookout. Some of it is seasonality. Pumpkins and cranberries are in season now, and so that’s what we’re having. Marshmallows are in season now, and so… Wait. The marshmallow/sweet potato thing doesn’t make sense on any level.
But more than seasonality, some of it just seems to be yearly preference. There’s no reason that coffee shops couldn’t sell Pumpkin Spice Lattes in June, but people don’t want them then, even if they’re still drinking hot coffee drinks. Cherries have a short growing season but are available all year in the frozen section, but cranberries, not so much. Unless you buy fresh cranberries in November and December and put them in the freezer, good luck finding them once January 1st rolls around.
So while you can attain them, grab a bag or two or three of cranberries. Pop some in the freezer and keep one container out for these black bean and sweet potato tacos with cranberry-orange salsa. They have a spicy edge to them and smokiness too by way of the chipotle pepper inside. (If you prefer less heat, remove the seeds from the pepper before including it.)
If you’ve never used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you’re in for a real treat. You can find them in small cans for a couple of bucks in most grocery stores alongside the salsas, tortillas, and jarred peppers. The peppers are swimming in adobo sauce, which has a wonderful smoky quality to it. I use both a teaspoon of the sauce and one pepper for this recipe. Like tomato paste, the remaining peppers in sauce can be frozen for future use.
I like to roast the sweet potatoes first before incorporating them with the black beans, so that they can easily brown without having to keep a constant eye on them in the skillet or adding a bunch of oil.
The tacos tick all of the pleasure sensors with smoky, sweet, tangy, and tart, soft and crunchy. A step outside of your ordinary taco, they’re also a way of using holiday leftovers in a unique way.
Serve them now while cranberries are all the rage, or save a bag for July for your own Jingle Bell dance party. Rules be damned.
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